DPS releases identities of pilot, passenger killed in plane crash near Katy Freeway in west Houston

Here's what we know about the man and woman who were killed during the plane crash in west Houston

HOUSTON – The Department of Public Safety has released the identities of the pilot and passenger killed in a plane crash near the Katy Freeway. The pilot has been identified as Katy resident Solomon Babalola, 23, and the female passenger was Apesin Oluwafunmilayo, 20. She resided in Houston.

DPS confirmed Thursday that the two died after a single-engine Piper PA28 Cherokee crashed behind the Harris County Precinct 5 headquarters.

DPS officials said a man and woman were both killed in the plane crash

The small, white plane was found deep inside George Bush Park near the 17400 block of the Katy Freeway shortly before 2 p.m.

The pilot and passenger were reported dead at the scene, Texas DPS officials said. The pilot was found ejected from the plane while the woman was still trapped inside, according to DPS.

During a news conference Thursday evening, the Texas DPS PIO, Richard Standifer, said the plane, which was headed to Pearland, departed around 7:55 p.m. on Wednesday.

DPS said they were notified about the crash at about 2 p.m. Thursday.

Personnel at the West Houston airport told KPRC they last heard from the pilot just before take-off but don’t normally stay in contact unless it’s requested.

“They don’t have to tell us anything, they can just get in the airplane and go,” airport manager Woody Lesikar said.

Lesikar said he went looking for the aircraft Thursday morning after he was notified by Babalola’s loved ones that he was missing.

“The next morning, his fiancée came out to the airport along with a couple of friends and they were distressed,” Lesikar said.

Lesikar said he spotted debris, near the plane’s last known location and notified the Harris County Sheriff’s office.

HCSO deputies eventually located the plane near a levee and deep into the northern part of a field at George Bush Park.

Pct. 5 deputies used 4-wheelers to access the scene since it was not accessible on the ground. According to officials, the scene is about a 45-minute walk from the nearest roadway and a 25-minute ride on an ATV.

According to Flight Aware’s tracklog, the aircraft was climbing at the time of its last transmission, two minutes after takeoff. The last recorded flight before this doomed flight was on Dec. 4. It recently was flown in Ohio, Kentucky, and here in Texas.

FAA will be leading the investigation. NTSB is expected to arrive at the scene on Friday.

About the Authors:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.

Reporter, proud Houstonian, U of H alumni, and lover of all the hometown sport teams.